It wasn't flooding but a two-day blizzard that Hurricane Sandy brought to the mountain ridges and hollows of West Virginia -- dumping so much snow that even the ski-area operators were complaining, mildly.
"We got snow, sure, but the roads are closed," said Chip Chase, founder and co-owner of the White Grass Nordic ski resort near Davis, W.Va. "Only people here came in by helicopter -- just kidding! It'll take a road grader to get these roads open," he said. Outside, 35 inches of dry, powdery show made for great snowshoeing, but the skiing was a tad difficult, Chase allowed. "It's pretty good if you stay on top of it."
The larger problem was the weather: 28 degrees and winds up to 40 miles per hour blowing drifts four to six feet high, with more snow forecast through Wednesday morning.
Across the northeastern part of West Virginia, where snowfall in the mountains above 2,500 feet was significant, 121,559 households were without power, said Mark Nitowski, a spokesman for Mon Power Co. The eastern portion of Interstate 68, the major east-west corridor across the top of the state, was closed, along with more than 30 other major routes, according to the Associated Press.
President Obama declared West Virginia a federal disaster area. But the snow spurred hope in the ski industry that after a disastrous winter a year ago, the 2012-2013 season was starting off well.
"Soon as the roads are open, we're gonna be rockin,'' Chase told The Huffington Post exuberantly. "Last winter was tough, we had so little snow. We're hoping this'll be different."
Over at the Snowshoe resort, in the Monongahela National Forest west of Charlottesville, Va., Sandy's snow was considered so premature that the snow-making machines were still going full tilt. "We got a full-on blizzard," said David Dekema, Snowshoe's marketing director, who was hunkered down indoors.
Snowshoe aims to open for Thanksgiving, and it needs to lay down a good base for skiers. The 18 inches of Sandy's snow on the ground isn't enough. "We go out to groom that, we'd be churning up dirt," Dekema said.
"We love to see the snow, but it gets people thinking they can come on Saturday while we're still weeks away from opening," he said.
In the meantime, Dekema said, "with the conditions here, people have more things on their mind than coming out for a day of skiing. We got a state of emergency here."
The Huffington Post is eager for insights from our community, especially people with experience in power, infrastructure and engineering, on the adequacy of emergency preparation in advance of Hurricane Sandy, and the degree to which past disasters have informed adequate planning and construction. Please send a note to email@example.com with insights and suggestions for the important questions that need to be asked of relevant private sector and government officials, and point us toward stories that need to be pursued.